Calling on all readers!

Friends and readers, I’m calling on your skills and expertise to help me. I’m working on a bit of a side project and I need you to help me brainstorm a little.

I’m looking for novels that are based on the lives of real life, historical people set in the early 20th century. Circling The Sun by Paula McLain is exactly the type of book I’m looking for. So far I’ve gathered this list. What can you add to it?

Z by Therese Anne FowlercoverCollage

Local Customs by Audrey Thomas

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

The Visitors by Sally Beauman

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannik Grannec

The Indian Clark by David Leavitt

The Confabulist by Steven Galloway

Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gornter

Above All Things by Tanis Rideout.

Mr. Mac And Me by Esther Freud

Let me know what I’m missing and I’ll add to my list.



  1. In glancing at my bookshelf… I have a few to suggest:

    * Mary Coin, by Marisa Silver (character names changed from those of real people, so not sure if this works for your project – same with Lily King’s ‘Euphoria’, and Curtis Sittenfeld’s ‘American Wife’.)
    * The Invention of Everything Else, by Samantha Hunt
    * The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty
    * A Good Hard Look, by Ann Napolitano
    * Erika Robuck has several, based on: Hemingway, Z. Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, St. Vincent Millay
    * Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Wayne Johsnton
    * 11/22/63, by Stephen King
    * The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
    * I Was Amelia Earhart, by Jane Mendelsohn

    I’ll stop now! 🙂

    Good luck with the project!!

  2. Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
    March by Geraldine Brooks
    The Women by T C Boyle
    Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
    Long Bay by Eleanor Limprecht
    My Notorious Life by Kate Manning
    Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

  3. Oooh – I have a list of just this category of books (it’s one of my favorites)! Here’s what I have that you didn’t already cover: 11/22/63 by Stephen King, A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott, Back Channel by Stephen L. Carter, Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree by Greg Iles, Sutton by J.R. Moehringer, The Wife The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon, and The Wives of Los Alamos (can’t remember the author right now). Hope this helps and I’ll be interested to hear more about your project since I love this category so much!

  4. I thought of The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin but I think that that one is actually the late 19th century.The only one I can come up with that someone else hasn’t already listed is The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff… It actually turns out that I don’t read a lot of this category – I read fictionalized accounts of real people but not set in the early 20th century. I tend to read the non-fiction versions of those. If you ever want suggestions in that category…

  5. Just thought of two more:

    * Dancer, by Colum McCann – fictionalized version of the life of Russian ballet great Rudolf Nureyev (17 March 1938 – 6 January 1993).
    * Arctic Summer, by Damon Galgut – early 1900s, about E.M. Foster, his life, and writing ‘A Passage to India’.

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